My day jobs are numerous! I’m the office manager for Midwest Environmental Advocates, which is a non-profit environmental law center. We focus on protecting the health of our water resources, especially through enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
I write a food blog, The Leek & The Carrot, because I love educating people about food, writing about my travels and the day-to-day realities of life on a farm.
In addition to all that, my husband and I run a CSA: Raleigh’s Hillside Farm.
I grew up on a farm—the farm where our CSA is located, actually—and I never thought I’d be back. But I’ve always been interested in food systems, food, the environment and public health and I came to realize that a new kind of farming could merge all those things.
CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a great way for people to experience a robust diversity of vegetables and get a taste of their local food system. Plus, of course, it supports local farmers. We’re working hard to deliver CSA in a way that makes CSAs accessible to all. My dream is to help people eat more vegetables and signing up for a CSA box is a baby step that can help get you there.
My most memorable caffeine would be hard to pick because I drink it daily—always. I especially love the connections made over coffee and learning about other countries’ coffee culture.
One of my favorite caffeine-related experiences was when I went to Honduras to see a friend who was a teacher there. She took us to a coffee plantation. My husband and I had just started to think about launching our CSA and we were very focused on all the realities of operating a farm.
It was fascinating to tour the farm—to see the coffee plants just scattered throughout the forest. We brought three pounds of coffee back with us and shared some with my in-laws. They were so excited about the idea of supporting that producer that they still get their coffee shipped in bulk from that farm.
My current caffeine of choice is an au lait with coconut or oat milk . And I like it with a little chocolate. If I’m having coffee at home, I’ll usually have a black coffee.
I really like Kickapoo coffee. They’re doing a great job of raising the bar for national coffee standards, especially in terms of compensation for coffee farmers. And they’re based right in Viroqua, Wisconsin.
My favorite place for caffeine is a bit of a toss-up. When I’m at work I like to come to Black Locust Cafe. They have great coffee, great light, loads of plants and beautiful space—which is important to me if I’m spending time indoors. I also like Kindfolk Coffee in Cambridge. I love their slogan: Be kind. Drink coffee.
The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with would be Anne of Green Gables—a kindred spirit who made me want to be a writer—and Molly Yeh, who’s an amazing food blogger in North Dakota. She went to Juilliard and met her husband on a beet farm (yes, you read that right). Molly does an incredible job of capturing the realities of being a rural woman and her recipes are lots of fun. I follow her religiously and reading her makes me want to do fun social things with food with the people I love.
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: I’d love to see a world where people have a healthy relationship to food and how they buy and consume it. I’d like to help create a world where people want to be farmers—it’s not just something you go back to if you’ve tried and failed at something else.
My mission is to change the perception of farming and farmers and I’d be happy to keep drinking coffee every day to help make that happen.